The majority of obesity cases are due to unhealthy eating habits. Unfortunately, the number of obese individuals is growing at an alarming rate. Today, obesity affects about a billion people, including 39 million children, 340 million teenagers, and 650 million adults. To make matters worse, it is projected that by 2025, nearly 167 million children and adults will be overweight or obese, putting their health at risk. This is a severe public health issue, as being overweight or obese increases the risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer. To address this issue, people must begin to make healthier food choices and engage in regular physical activity.
Because these figures are concerning, millions of individuals are altering their diets and lifestyles in order to achieve a healthier weight. Diets such as Paleo and Ketogenic (keto) are becoming increasingly popular as people strive to make healthier dietary choices. Combined with regular exercise, these diets can help people lose weight. Scientific studies provide evidence to back up some of these promises of weight loss and improved health associated with the keto diet. While it is important to note that results may vary depending on the individual, many people have successfully implemented these diets and made lifestyle changes such as increased exercise.
What is the Ketogenic Diet?
A ketogenic diet is a dietary approach characterized by a low carbohydrate intake and a high fat intake to induce a metabolic state known as ketosis. This metabolic state is characterized by a shift in fuel utilization from carbohydrate oxidation to fatty acid oxidation. This shift results in the body burning fat and ketones for energy rather than glucose. Under these conditions, the body produces ketone bodies, which are energy molecules produced from fatty acids. These ketone bodies are then used for energy, allowing the body to function without relying on carbohydrates. As a result of this shift in fuel utilization, ketogenic diets are beneficial for weight loss, reducing symptoms of certain neurological disorders, and even potentially slowing tumor growth.
Ketones are high-energy compounds produced when the body is deprived of carbohydrates. When the intake of dietary carbohydrates is significantly reduced, the body’s stored glycogen levels (chains of carbohydrates) and blood glucose levels (free carbohydrates) become depleted considerably. As a result, the body begins to produce ketones as an alternative fuel source in order to provide energy to the cells. Ketones are produced in the liver when fatty acids are broken down and are used by the body as an energy source when glucose is not available.
Consequently, the body seeks an alternative energy source; fat is the most viable option. Mitochondria in the liver initiate the process of fat conversion, both from dietary and stored sources, into ketones. These ketones can be utilized as an alternative to glucose for energy. Additionally, ketones are water-soluble and can be easily transported through the bloodstream and even cross the blood-brain barrier, thus providing fuel for the brain.
Fad diets and quick fixes don’t always work; the ketogenic diet requires dedication and commitment in order to work. It’s not just about eating low-carb; it’s about eating healthy, nutrient-rich foods high in healthy fats. By following a balanced ketogenic diet and exercising regularly, you can make sustainable changes to your lifestyle and maintain a healthy weight.
Macronutrient Ratios in the Ketogenic Diet
Eating too many carbohydrates can cause the body to revert to burning glucose, so it is essential to regulate your carb intake if you want to reach and maintain ketosis. This is why many keto dieters rely on high-fat foods like avocados, olive oil, and nuts to provide the energy needed to fuel their bodies. Additionally, research has disproven the “fat-makes-you-fat
What is the ideal fat consumption for a ketogenic diet? It is recommended that one consumes approximately…
70-75% of daily calories from fat
20-25% of daily calories from protein
5-10% of daily calories are from carbohydrates.
It is important to remember that the percentages for macronutrient intake when following a keto diet should be used as a guideline only. Everyone’s needs may differ depending on their lifestyle, so it is wise to adjust these recommendations to suit your needs. For beginners, it is recommended that carbohydrates are limited to between 25-50 grams per day, and lost calories should be replaced with higher amounts of fat and moderate amounts of protein.
Exploring the Ketogenic Diet: What To Eat?
It is essential to understand what a ketogenic diet is before examining the foods permitted on it. A ketogenic diet is composed of low-carbohydrate, high-fat, and moderate-protein foods. This dietary pattern causes the body to enter a metabolic state called ketosis, which enables it to use stored fat for energy instead of the sugars found in carbohydrates.
When in ketosis, the body breaks down fat molecules and turns them into ketones, which the body can then utilize as a source of energy. Thus, consuming the following keto-friendly foods can assist the body in making this transition and maintaining this state in order to maximize weight loss.
Avocados are a valuable source of healthy fats and essential nutrients, boasting a high content of monounsaturated fats, folate, magnesium, and potassium. Furthermore, they facilitate greater uptake of beta carotene and increased availability of lutein and omega-3 fatty acids, making them an integral component of a nutritious diet. Through their beneficial fat and nutrient content, avocados can help individuals feel sated between meals.
Avocado has a glycemic index of essentially nothing, resulting in it being classified as a low-GI fruit. Foods with a low glycemic index are responsible for a slower rise in blood sugar levels when compared to those containing a moderate or high GI index.
Consumption of organic plant fats, such as avocados, can be beneficial in terms of cholesterol and triglyceride levels, as a half-medium avocado contains 9 grams of carbohydrates (carbs) and 7 grams of fiber.
Berries are the exception to the general rule that fruit is not suitable for a ketogenic diet due to its high carbohydrate content.
Berries, such as strawberries and raspberries, contain high amounts of fiber and are relatively low in carbohydrates. However, blackberries and blueberries, although lower in carbohydrates than other fruits, may not be suitable for people strictly adhering to a ketogenic diet.
The potent antioxidants present in these small fruits may help to mitigate oxidative stress and inflammation, thereby limiting susceptibility to certain illnesses.
Cheese is a beneficial option for those with a ketogenic diet, as it consists of healthy saturated fat and lacks carbohydrates – making it an excellent choice for cardiovascular health.
Consumption of cheese must be closely monitored, as one ounce of cheese contains approximately 30% of the recommended daily saturated fat intake. Thus, those who have a concern for their cardiovascular health should be mindful of the quantity of cheese they consume.
Cheese is rich in calcium and protein and contains fermented probiotics, which makes it beneficial to digestive health. Furthermore, there is evidence that conjugated linoleic acid, a component found in cheese, may be associated with weight loss and improved body composition.
Moreover, regular ingestion of cheese may be beneficial in mitigating muscle mass and stamina decline that accompanies advancing age.
Examples of cheese that may be consumed on a ketogenic diet include:
- Blue cheese
- Colby jack
- Cottage cheese
- Cream cheese
- Colby jack
- Goat cheese
Fresh Meat And Poultry
Meat and poultry are essential components of the ketogenic diet. As they contain little to no carbohydrates, they offer a complete source of protein that includes all the essential amino acids necessary for bodily growth, maintenance, and repair.
Meat is an abundant provider of essential vitamins and minerals, such as zinc, iron, and vitamin B12, all of which are essential for maintaining healthy red blood cells and energy levels.
It is essential to select your meat judiciously. Pre-marinated and processed meats, such as sausages, bacon, deli cuts, and skewers, may include extra carbohydrates and other chemicals.
If you’re looking for the healthiest choice, reach for unprocessed meats like fresh chicken fillets, a whole turkey, or Rib Eye steak. If you can, try to find organic, grass-fed options, as they contain no hormones or artificial chemicals and boast higher levels of Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.
It’s essential to keep in mind that when following the ketogenic diet, fat should make up the majority of your daily calories, not protein. As a general guideline, try to keep your protein intake at 1 gram per kilogram of body weight per day. This will help ensure that your body gets enough nutrition on the ketogenic diet.
Plain Greek Yogurt And Plain Yogurt
Studies have shown that consuming both plain and Greek yogurt can be beneficial for your health due to the high levels of protein and calcium they contain. Protein and calcium have been found to help reduce hunger and increase feelings of fullness.
When you opt for yogurt with a higher fat content, you may feel fuller for extended periods. The ketogenic diet, known for its weight loss benefits, recommends incorporating other high-fat dairy products, such as heavy cream, for this reason. This eating style can help you lose weight by reducing carb cravings that lead to overeating and snacking on unhealthy foods.
Plant-Based, Unsweetened Milk
If you’re on the keto diet and looking for a dairy-free milk alternative, soy, coconut, and almond milk could all be good options.
When trying to stick to a keto diet, it’s wiser to go for an unsweetened plant-based milk to cut down on calories. Sweetened versions usually pack too much sugar for the keto diet, so it’s best to stay away from them. Check the nutrition label – not all plant-based milk are keto-friendly! Getting sugar from drinks is in direct opposition to your goals for having chosen the Keto diet in the first place. Commercially processed drinks are often labeled to imply they’re a healthy choice but are often high in sugar or carbohydrates.
Seafood And Fatty Fish
Fish and seafood are great for the keto diet, especially fatty varieties like salmon, mackerel, and sardines. Fish is carb-free but packed with vitamins D and B2, plus minerals like calcium and phosphorus.
Fish is an excellent source of Omega-3s, essential for good heart and brain health. The two main types of Omega-3s in fish are EPA and DHA. Eating Omega-3s can help lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.
If you’re looking to avoid mercury, go with wild-caught Alaskan salmon, Pacific sardines, or farmed rainbow trout. Mercury exposure can have negative impacts on your nervous system, digestion, and immune system, so it’s best to avoid it if you can.
Eating fatty fish can be good for your brain – it might help you avoid cognitive decline as you get older, and even Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Some types of seafood have carbs. Crab and prawns don’t, but mussels and octopus have about 4-7 grams per 100 grams.
If you’re trying to be healthy, you might want to steer clear of fried or crumbed food. Many of these have extra carbs; when they’re deep-fried, they’re packed with trans fats. We all know trans fats are linked to heart disease and diabetes, so it’s probably best to stay away. (Yeah, no more keto-friendly pork rinds; maybe think again)
Veggies like greens are pretty low-cal and low-carb, but they’re packed with great stuff, like vitamins and minerals like iron, magnesium, and zinc. Plus, they’ve got antioxidants, which help protect your cells from all the bad stuff.
If you’re looking for veggies to eat on a keto diet, go for those with 8g of net carbs or less per cup. That’s total carbs minus fiber. Some good options include broccoli, white mushrooms, zucchini, green beans, cauliflower, bell peppers, spinach, and cucumbers.
Seeds And Nuts
If you’re counting carbs, you need to know that nuts and seeds can vary in how many you’ll get from them. A serving of Brazil nuts, about 28g, only has 1g net carb, but the same amount of cashews has 8g. Chia seeds are still low with just 1g net carb, but if you switch to pumpkin seeds, it’ll be 4g.
When it comes to nuts, make sure you go for the raw ones that aren’t roasted with unhealthy oils, pasteurized, or covered in sugar or seasonings. Roasted nuts are delicious, but the heat can ruin their healthy fats. If you can, get the organic kind – no pesticides or antimicrobials.
Just watch out for the nuts, okay? They’re packed with energy, so you can eat way more calories than you bargained for. Plus, too many polyunsaturated fats can cause inflammation. So, snack smart!
Here are some deets on nuts & seeds, but always engage in your due diligence and read the nutrition label before you load up:
- Pecans: 109 grams contains 15 g of carbs.
- Chia seeds: 100 grams contain 42 g carbs.
- Sesame seeds: 100 grams have 23 g of carbs.
- Macadamia nuts: 100 grams contain 14 g carbs.
- Walnuts: 100 grams contain 14 g of carbs.
- Hemp seeds: 3 tablespoons contain 1 g of carbs.
- Pumpkin seeds: 100 grams contain 54 g carbs.
- Flaxseeds: 100 grams contain 29 g carbs.
Olive oil has many benefits for your heart health. It contains oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that can help reduce your chances of getting coronary heart disease. Olive oil is a plant-based fat that contains no carbohydrates and is commonly used as an ingredient in vegan food products, such as mayonnaise and salad dressings. Furthermore, the potent polyphenol antioxidants in Extra-Virgin Olive Oil are beneficial for cardiovascular health and can reduce inflammation and improve arterial function.
When cooking using a ketogenic diet, it is recommended to use olive oil for low-temperature cooking or as a topping on keto foods, since it is less heat-resistant than saturated fats. Additionally,
What other beverages and meals are suitable for a ketogenic diet?
- Unsweetened coffee.
- Eggs: 100 grams of boiled eggs contain 1.1g of carbs.
- Cocoa powder and dark chocolate include flavonols, which may minimize your risk of cardiovascular disease by maintaining your arteries healthy and lowering blood pressure.
- Shirataki noodles are composed of glucomannan, a viscous fiber. This fiber produces a gel, which slows the passage of food through the digestive system tract. This may lead to weight loss and better diabetic control by reducing hunger and blood sugar surges.
You may consider the keto diet to reach your weight-loss goals quickly. While on the meal plan, it is essential to understand what should be incorporated into your diet in order to promote ketosis and what should be avoided. However, as with any diet, it is advisable to seek first-hand guidance from a dietitian or medical professional to ensure that the diet is healthy and that any potential risks, such as keto flu, can be avoided.
It’s likely you’ll make some mistakes or possibly cave into cravings. In either case, steer the ship back on track and keep going. Doing anything strikingly new takes time and practice. Be patient and stay the course, and you’ll ultimately achieve the desired results.